Get local news delivered straight to your phone

We can't make City Paper without you

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

The Jennifer Lopez publicity machine got the timing of Maid in Manhattan just right. Nearly two years after her break with gun-toting Puffy and yet comfortably before the finalization of Flighty Divorce No. 2, Jenny From the Block is still none-too-subtly insisting that she’s just a nice, normal girl—this time with a part as a humble chambermaid who dreams of nothing more than to one day manage a hotel, beauty and charisma be damned. Her involvement in this fluffy wisp of a movie, therefore, is retch-inducing but understandable. As for Ralph Fiennes’—well, maybe he expects this to be his Shakespeare in Love. Maid in Manhattan is largely the Cinderella story you think it will be: New Yorker Marisa (Lopez) attracts the attention of senatorial candidate Christopher Marshall (Fiennes) when he sees her looking fab after a fellow maid talks Marisa into trying on a designer outfit belonging to a hotel guest (the appropriately obnoxious Natasha Richardson). With the romantic-comedy standbys of mistaken identity and out-of-league love put in place with one easy swoop, Maid in Manhattan subsequently tries to meat things up by using Marshall’s political involvement to provide inspiration (to Marisa’s young Nixon-loving son) and speaking to the Issues of race and class (with Marisa’s pointers to wan white men on how best to keep it real). And touches of unexpected and, dare I say, refreshing ugliness come courtesy of Marisa’s mother (Priscilla Lopez), who, a la Real Women Have Curves, is curiously disgusted by the idea of Marisa either being in a manager’s blazer or a senator’s arms. Though J.Lo is not, at least onscreen, a Real Woman by any stretch of the imagination (no one’s ever looked better in a maid’s outfit that was not of the French variety), she is a decent and consistently likable actress—which is just enough to make this confection slightly less disposable than her marriage vows. —Tricia Olszewski